The Project Room at Independent Project Press is honored to present In Search of The Miraculous, a selection of masterful photo-realistic oil paintings of the Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierra by Palo Alto-based artist Alan Sonneman. For the first time ever these exquisitely beautiful works of art will be shown here in the Owens Valley.
This body of work is the result of fifteen years of Alan Sonneman's exploration in the high alpine regions of California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. Alan recorded his experiences and observations with a camera as he moved from place to place during his travels. He then created the paintings in his studio based upon these photographs.
"I approached the Southern Sierra from its eastern escarpment in the Owens Valley, and it is from that vantage point that these images are derived. The portals of Owens Valley provide relatively quick yet steep access to the pristine lakes and broad basins that draw many to the high country of the Southern Sierra. I move through these mountains rather slowly, spending several days in one place, trying to gain a sense of its moods, its weight and the changing light. Time is needed for observation here, for the sense of time is what is significant and is a large part of the subject of these paintings."
The resulting body of work - both photographs and paintings - capture these direct experiences of time and place.
"At first glance, these paintings of the American Landscape are about nature's beauty... a relatively simple concept. But stay with the canvases for any amount of time and they begin to breathe with questions about our own place in the world. They extol nature as a vast unknowable world, both empty and expansive, and as a place where humanity is the exception, not the rule."
Alan Sonneman created this body of work with an awareness of its relationship to the contexts of both historical and contemporary art. In their reference to the massive scale of the physical world, these paintings have an affinity with the work of Michael Heizer or James Turrell, as much as Fredrick Church or Thomas Moran. But they also evoke a time when Romantic artists were not afraid to address the idea that art could be a transcendent experience. Sonneman is searching for something here, something found in a moment of complete silence, a place where the scale of nature gives us a more direct understanding of our own identity and our relationship to the world in which we've always existed.
"This is the world as it is... its forces and its immense scale. It's a place where over time, the mere air can grind even the grandest mountain to dust."
Alan Sonneman's long career has encompassed both the fine art world and the film industry. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute, where he studied painting with Robert Bechtle and contemporary theory with Jack Burnham and Barbara Rose. He has exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States, most notably: the Washington Project for the Arts, the Katzen Art Center at American University and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, all in Washington, DC; the Alternative Museum in New York City; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) in Los Angeles; The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; at the Riverside Museum of Art in Riverside CA in conjunction with his mural for the Riverside Hall of Justice; and at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. He has received numerous grants and fellowships including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Painting. He recently completed a commission for the US Embassy in Pakistan. In the film industry, Sonneman's painting skills have contributed to such movies as Cliffhangers, Titanic, The Matrix Revolution, AI and What Dreams May Come.
Alan Sonneman's In Search of The Miraculous exhibition will be on view from Saturday, May 21st through Saturday, September 3rd, 2016. Please join us during our opening reception for the artist from 5 PM - 8 PM on Saturday, May 21st. We are excited to have the opportunity to bring this artwork to the Eastern Sierra, the land from which it was directly inspired, and to be able to share it with local residents as well as those who travel to the area to be inspired by the beauty the Eastern Sierra has to offer. All of the original oil paintings on view will be available for purchase. The Project Room will also be offering archival signed pigment prints which have been produced by the artist in his studio. Gallery hours after the opening are from 11 AM - 3 PM on Saturdays, and by appointment during the week. Call 760.873.3600 or email if you wish to make an appointment.